Image of Evil

The face of the Louisiana plantation of Southern Moon gleamed invitingly in the summer sun when Susan arrived for her visit. The ravishing, aristocratic plantation mistress, Corinna Hamilton, her elegant suitor, Cedric Raimond, her handsome, dashing son, Paul, her breathtaking daughter, Lacy – all welcomed Susan as one of their own.

But once within the old mansion, Susan soon discovered the dark side of Southern Moon. Too late the lovely young girl knew she was lost and alone in a nighttime world of sinister secrets and fearful danger, where she was being helplessly turned into a slave of love and a prisoner of evil…

Image of Evil by Rosemary A. Crawford. First Dell printing November 1971 & Candlelight Intrigue Dell printing October 1979.

The weather is hot, hot, hot – and it’s raining (again!) – so what better time to immerse myself in a sweat-drippin’ gothic set in the swampy morass of Louisiana.

Susan is twenty three and works as a junior designer in New York. One day she receives a letter from a strange woman, Corinna Hamilton, claiming to be her mother’s long lost sister. Corinna is inviting Susan to come visit the Hamilton plantation so she can become reacquainted with her southern cousins.

Susan is suspicious – as far as she is aware her mother was an only child with no surviving family. If Corinna Hamilton really is her Aunt, then why did her mother lie to her? And for so long? This really is a secret too tempting to resist, so Susan takes an early holiday to travel down to Louisiana to find out the truth for herself.

When she arrives at Southern Moon, Susan finds herself underwhelmed by all her new relatives and their showy pretence at hospitality. Worst of all is Susan’s cousin Paul – by about page sixty he decides he wants to marry her. And he won’t take no for an answer. In fact, to her horror, the whole family won’t take no for an answer – marrying your cousin is quite acceptable in certain circles and, as her Aunt sagely advises: “It saves a great deal of controversy when it comes to divide the spoils – all in the family you know.”

And as if that wasn’t enough to ruin her holiday, Susan also has Billy Ben to contend with. He’s the tobacco chewing deputy sheriff who drawls a lot and has an awkward habit of popping up out of nowhere, languidly leaning on door frames while leering suspiciously at our heroine.He seems to know more than he is letting on, but what?

Dell first printing 1971

Meanwhile Paul conveniently crashes his car and ends up in a coma, leaving Susan free from his unwanted advances and giving her the perfect opportunity to make her excuses and leave. Against her better instincts, Susan decides to stay but, as she uncovers more of the secrets behind her mother’s estrangement from the Hamilton clan, she (eventually) realises her own life is in danger. Escape seems impossible – the horses have all been sold off and her car impounded. Trapped in an isolated mansion, surrounded by lecherous law enforcement officers and treacherous swampland, only the handsome Dr Clay Foster can save her now….

I found Image of Evil a bit like the weather – muggy and dull and heavy going at times, the story bogged down in lengthy genealogical revelations, with not enough actually happening in the here and now. Worse still, the ‘terrible evil’ at the root of this family rift turned out to be nothing more that a stolen stamp collection. Dear God, stamps! With not even a whiff of a ghost to spice up the equation.

On the plus side, I did like the location and all the lush descriptions of swampland and thunderstorms. The car crash towards the end was suitably dramatic and perked me up a little but overall I found this one difficult to finish. Two out of five stars.

I have two copies of this book. The cover on the earlier edition below works better, I think – the artwork more detailed and vivid (though you’d never guess from the condition of my copy). The cover above is a later Dell reprint under their Candlelight Intrigue series – I must admit, the juxtaposition of the tradtional Mills & Boony type design with the creepy gothic artwork is well… intriguing. I’d like to see more of these!

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Rebecca

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”

One of the most appealing heroines in all of fiction weaves a special magic to enthral every reader.

Known to millions through the outstandingly successful versions on stage and screen, the characters in this timeless romance become hauntingly real  – to be treasured in the memory.

Brilliantly conceived, masterfully executed, Daphne du Maurier’s unforgettable tale of love and suspense is a storytelling triumph that will be read and re-read.

Written by Daphne du Maurier. First published 1938 by Victor Gollancz Ltd. This edition published by Pan Books 1976.

Daphne  du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn is one of my favourite all-time gothics and since there’s a new anthology of her stories due out this week (more on that later) and the Daphne du Maurier Festival taking place later this month, I thought it was  about time I posted a review of what must be her most remembered book, Rebecca

With one of the best known opening lines in literary history and widely believed to be the book that kick-started the revival for Gothic Romance in the 20th Century, Rebecca is Daphne du Maurier’s fifth novel and for many considered to be the quintessential modern Gothic.

Told in flashback, this is story of an unnamed women’s struggle as she adjusts to a new life married to the wealthy owner of a West Country estate and her fight to come out from under the shadow cast by her husband’s first wife Rebecca.

Rebecca was everything the new Mrs de Winter is not – beautiful, charming, self confident and dead. She drowned in a boating accident in the bay, and it was her husband Maxim de Winter who identified the body when it was supposedly washed up from the sea a couple of months later. 

1992 Arrow Edition

Feeling inadequate and unfamiliar with her grand new lifestyle, the new Mrs de Winter finds it very difficult to adjust, becoming less and less confident with each new faux pas, failing to live up to the standard she thinks is expected of her. And then there is Mrs Danvers – the sly, secretive, skull-faced housekeeper who loved Rebecca more than anyone and who just can’t hide her dislike for her new mistress.

The best gothic romances brim with unspoken secrets and emotions. This book is full of such things and more, as the withered claw of Rebecca’s unburied past  reaches out from its watery grave, maintaining its strange stranglehold over the living occupants of Manderley.

Dare I say it however, Rebecca is not my favourite gothic romance – it is not even my favourite du Maurier novel. Though it is beautifully written, I find the voice of the new Mrs de Winter a little too insipid for my tastes and difficult to listen to for long. I’ve picked this book up and put it down again so many times the story has always been a bit of a disjointed blur for me. In my defence though,  I have seen the play and I did watch the Alfred Hitchcock movie last night specially for this review.

Movie poster 1956

And what a fab movie it is too!

Joan Fontaine is brilliant. When reading Rebecca I never developed much sympathy for the new Mrs de Winter – I could never understand what all the fuss was about over the costume ball for example – but watching the film made me cringe in sympathy for her. Laurence Olivier really brings the character Maxim alive too, maintaining an undeniable charm on the surface but with an added aura of menace and control over his new bride. And if gloom-ridden, gothic mansions are your thing – well, the opening shots of Manderley are a treat!

Four out of five stars.

Fans of Daphne Du Maurier will be interested to know that Virago press are publishing a new anthology of her short stories this week. Called The Doll, this collection features 13 ‘forgotten’ short stories written by du Maurier early on in her career. The titular story – lost for more than 70 years – is a macabre tale about a man who discovers that the girl he’s smitten with is besotted with a mechanical sex doll. 

Here’s a description taken from the Virago website:

 ‘I want to know if men realise when they are insane. Sometimes I think that my brain cannot hold together, it is filled with too much horror – too much despair …I cannot sleep, I cannot close my eyes without seeing his damned face. If only it had been a dream.’

 In ‘The Doll’, a waterlogged notebook is washed ashore. Its pages tell a dark story of obsession and jealousy. But the fate of its narrator is a mystery. Many of the stories in this haunting collection have only recently been discovered. Most were written early in Daphne du Maurier’s career, yet they display her mastery of atmosphere, tension and intrigue and reveal a cynicism far beyond her years.

More information can be found at the Virago press website HERE.

Virago 2003

And to celebrate all things splendiferously Daphne, I have not one but two copies of Rebecca to give away free to anyone with a UK postal address.

The first is an Arrow edition, published 1992 with a short biography and photograph of the author on the inside cover (pictured above). The second, shown left, is the very nice Virago Modern Classic edition.

Just email me via the contacts page with your preference. First come first served. Enjoy!

My Pan copy - love the colour of that sky!

Journey Into Twilight

No Place To Run…

Marcia Lovell ran away from Bannersville when she lost the only man in the world she could love – lost Adam Wilson, to her cousin, Gloria. She managed to stay away from the past until the day when her plane was forced down at Logan Airport, in Boston, only fifty miles from the town where she had grown to womanhood. There in Boston she again met Adam. She was ready to shut her ears and her eyes to this ghost from a time that never was, until she learned that the usurping love had quickly died. Now Gloria herself seemed marked for death?

Could Marcia return to yesterday, to save the life of a woman she still hated…save her before she herself met death?

Written by Miriam Lynch. Lancer Gothic 1970.

Marcia Lovell is a nurse living on the West Coast. Returning home from a holiday in Athens, she is delayed in Boston’s Logan Airport when her plane is forced to make an emergency landing. Marcia is no stranger to the East coast as her home town is only a few miles from Boston, but it is a place of bad memories she has been avoiding for years.

At the Airport she bumps into Adam – her childhood sweetheart and the man who broke her heart when he left her to marry the town’s glamour puss, Marcia’s cousin Gloria. Though Adam is the last person Marcia wants to see right now she agrees to one drink and, over cocktails in the airport lounge, learns that Adam’s engagement to Gloria was a disaster and it was Marcia he really loved all along.

But there is more – Gloria has had a nervous breakdown and is currently undergoing ‘special’ treatment in a sanatorium called Riversong. According to Adam, Riversong is a spooky place run by an even spookier Doctor called Theodore Sherman. No-one will let Adam see Gloria and, worried for her safety, Adam pleads with Marcia to visit to Riversong to find out what is going on.

Marcia reluctantly agrees; she hates Gloria but cannot resist Adam’s big brown eyes. In any event, as a nurse, her professional interest is piqued so that afternoon Adam drives her out to the fog-ridden isolated, peninsula where Riversong is located.

What follows one of those night-of-terror-trapped-in-a-house-full-of-hell gothics Miriam Lynch seems to do so well. Trying to rescue Gloria while simultaneously uncovering a fiendishly clever blackmailing racket, our heroine is drugged, tortured and chased through a mansion that is fast becoming engulfed by flood waters from the surrounding river. Can she and Gloria escape in time? What strange power does the demonic Dr.  Sherman have over the inmates of Riversong? And where the jiminy cricket is Adam?!

Journey into Twilight is a pacy and enjoyable read with enough bizarre plot twists  to keep me coming back for more. Mad scientists and their insane experiments make for great gothic reading and Dr Sherman’s infernal hypnagogic dream manipulator was a treat. Four out of five stars.


White Violets

 

THE SCENT OF DEATH WAS IN THE AIR AT GLOOMY, MENACING NORTHCOURT – THE FRAGRANCE WAS WHITE VIOLETS!

When young Helen Stone became secretary to the mistress of Northcourt, she quickly learned that her predecessor had died under the most mysterious of circumstances.

The inhabitants of the huge, forbidding mansion were a strange, hostile lot, desperately trying to keep under cover a dread secret about Northcourt’s shadowy past. The only one she was drawn to was Bob Coles a handsome though bitter man.

One day Helen found herself high above the sea, in a tunnel filled with fog and the haunting scent of white violets. She stumbled against Bob Coles and her own nightmare at Northcourt began….

Written by Edward Crandall. Originally published 1953. Fourth paperback printing May 1969.

The blurb on the cover tells it all really – the young Ms Stone is employed as a secretary for Mrs Porter and finds herself trapped in a huge gloomy mansion, peopled by a variety of odd characters who are all bitter and twisted and after their share of the Old Dear’s inheritance.

Piece by piece Helen learns the story behind the death of her unfortunate predecessor and tensions build to bursting as our hapless heroine stumbles upon mutilated photographs, mysterious hats and strangers lurking in her bedroom.

I was attracted to this book by the underground tunnels, as I live in a seaside town rumoured to be riddled with the same  such smuggler’s hidey holes. I also thought the writing was very good, with some great descriptions of windswept cliffs and doom ridden rooms.

My only criticism would be I thought the action was a little too slow, nothing much seemed to be happening for the first part of the book apart from detailed conversations involving the history of the characters and their relationships to each other and I would have preferred a little more spooky and a little less background.

Nevertheless, once things get going,  the writing is very effective with some genuinely scary scenes. There is plenty to please in the romance department too – with a more than eligible love interest provided by the sexy but grouchy gardener Bob. Four out of five stars.

I also like the distinctive cover; there is a signature along the right side of the dress but I can’t quite make out the name. The closest I can guess it to be is Jerome Podwil but I can’t be sure.

To Seek Where Shadows Are

Posed for Death….

Laurie’s fiancé hated the apartment she’d chosen for them to live in when they got married. Steve couldn’t be specific, but something about the old Victorian building really bothered him.

But Laurie loved their future home. As she poked through the old rooms that had once served as an artist’s studio, she discovered a portrait of a lovely but obviously unhappy young girl that had been painted at the end of the last century. The pretty young model fascinated Laurie and she longed to know the reason for the sad expression on the girl’s face. Her curiosity would soon be satisfied – but at the risk of her engagement and, ultimately, her life!

Written by Miriam Benedict. First Avon printing December 1973.

A classic haunted house mystery. Our heroine, Laurie the Librarian, finds herself the new tenant of a old but ‘heaven sent’ apartment in an eerie Victorian house located in the bohemian part of town.

Of course Laurie falls in love with the apartment and can’t wait to start settling in to wedded bliss in her first new home with husband-to-be Steve.

Unfortunately Steve hates the place, won’t set foot in it actually, so for most of the story Laurie is left to renovate and redecorate on her ownsome, assisted by the occasional morale boosting bottle of wine and Chinese take away provided by her neighbour  and best friend, Alex the Artist,  who lives downstairs.

Things soon take a gothic turn for the worse when Laurie  becomes haunted by strange dreams and mysterious goings on that have a story of their own to tell – a tale about a beautiful artist’s model driven to despair by guilt and the  murderous attentions of  the artist’s jilted, jealous fiancée .

Isolated and vulnerable, driven to exhaustion by all her redecorating and stressed by the move, Laurie becomes more and more obsessed and endangered by these nefarious spirits. Bit by bit – and with a lot of help from her friends – she is able to unravel the mystery surrounding the secrets of this house, hopefully laying to rest the unhappy ghosts for good.

This was a fair to middling read in the gothic stakes. There were plenty of spooky happenings, including a sleepwalking, spirit possessed boyfriend with a penchant for past life regression, and a nice background story involving a doomed love affair  /  tragic love triangle from the past.

However, the overall execution of the story was a little inconsistent – this was yet another book that starts out good but gets spoiled by a rushed ending where the characters will say and do anything just to tie up the loose ends in time. As a result, some of the characterisation just did not seem too credible to me and so I found myself losing interest about two thirds of the way through.

On the plus side, there are some well written, genuinely gothicky moments and the cover art is especially beautiful. I love that spooky looking tree poking out from behind the curtain. Three out of five stars.


On the Night of the Seventh Moon

Forest of Doubt….

Helena Trant has always felt a special fascination for the myths and legends of Southern Germany, where she is living. So, lost in the forest one day, she feels little surprise when a handsome stranger appears and leads her to safety – there is a Prince Charming in all good fairy stories.

But this idyll suddenly becomes a nightmare. The passionate love that grows between Helena and her rescuer seems destined to inspire hatred, treachery, even murder in others. And as Helena draws near to the source of the evil that nurses them, she begins to feel that there will be no happy ending to her story.

Written by Victoria Holt. First published in the UK by Wm. Collins 1973. This edition Fontana Books 1974.

My mum was a big fan of Historical Romances by writers like Anna Seyton and Victoria Holt so even today I get a ‘grown up’ feeling reading these books. I saw this in our local secondhand book store and couldn’t resist the cover so thought I’d give it a go.

The scene is set when our teenage heroine wanders off from her convent school picnic and finds herself lost in the  deep dark woods of Southern Germany. From out of nowhere a tall, handsome stranger appears to carry her away into the ‘safety’ of his hunting lodge. What follows is a night of romance and intrigue where our innocent Helena very nearly loses more than her heart. But, thanks to the quick thinking and eagle eye of the trusty old servant  Hildegarde, her honour is kept intact and the very next day she is delivered safe and sound back into the arms of the worried nuns entrusted to look after her.

Of course she cannot get her handsome stranger, who calls himself Siegfried,  out of her mind, so imagine her delight when once again they meet up during a mid-summer festival of madness known locally as the Night of the Seventh Moon. This time our couple  are determined to consummate their love, so, within just a couple of days, they are married; ready, willing and able to embark on a honeymoon blissfully ensconced in the very same lodge they spent that fateful first night together.

And then, just a few days later, Helena wakes up. In her cousins house. To be told she has been delirious since returning from the woods on the night of the festival, a ravaged wreck, driven half insane by the terrible crimes inflicted on her. No one will listen to her fantastic story of  marriage to the love of her life and their fateful few days together. Plied with drugs and surrounded by disbelieving well-wishers, soon even Helena begins to doubt her own sanity. She returns to her home town of Oxford to recuperate, a shadow of her former self.

Some years later she returns to Germany, hired as a governess teaching English to the children of Count Ludwig of Lokenburg. Back in the land of haunted forests and midsummer madness, the castle’s household start preparations for the return of their Prince and when Helena finally meets him, she can’t believe her eyes or her luck. But little does she realise, her problems are only just beginning.

Seventh Moon started off great – I loved the atmosphere created by the tension in the relationship between the central characters – Helena’s almost obsessive love for this shadowy figure, to whom she is irrestitibly drawn but who you just don’t know whether to trust or not. Ultimately the  book was let down by the too pat, too happy ending- though overall the writing was very good and the story wonderfully twisted. A dark, brooding tale of longing and passion –  peppered with dark forests, haunted castles and Germanic folklore. Four out of five stars.


The Stones of Strendleigh

Was Strendleigh Hall a gracious refuge offering shelter and comfort – or an elegant deathtrap waiting to destroy the unsuspecting…

It was a set of tragic circumstances that brought Rose to Strendleigh… or perhaps it was fate, for she came to love the English manor and the inhabitants who treated her so kindly.

Butsoon Rose learned that her ties to Strendleigh were closer than that of grateful houseguest. And the closer she got to the truth, the more obvious it became that one of the two handsome Stone brothers vying for her hand in marriage was really trying to rid the hall of its guest…permanently.

Love thwarted by greed was Strendleigh’s evil past, and now it fell to a terrified young girl to avenge that lost love – or die a victim of it…….

Written by Geraldine Killoran. First Ace printing November 1974.

Recently orphaned Rose Douglas, together with her pet pony Bonny, travel all the way down to Cornwall from Scotland to live with her Uncle Andrew in a cottage on the grounds of the Strendleigh Estate. He was the quarryman who designed and built the magnificent Strendleigh Hall and when he dies in a mysterious accident, Rose has no option but to reside at the Hall until she can decide what to do with her life.

At first it looks as if her options are limited -once her Uncle’s debts have been settled there’s not much left over for Rose – so she is very grateful for the hospitality extended to her by the Strendleigh family, in particular the two tall, dark and handsome brothers, Masters  George and Gideon Strendleigh.

Alas, the longer she stays at Strendleigh the more her life is imperilled, as small accidents start turning into death defying near misses, and as Rose learns more about the history of Strendleigh, she starts to suspect she’s inherited a little more than her fiery red hair from Uncle Andrew’s side of the family. But if she wants to claim her inheritance she needs to act fast – someone is out to kill her.

The Stones of Strendleigh is a well written historical suspense novel, with lots of added background on the history of this Cornish family and their ancestral home lending depth and credibility to the story. I’m not a huge fan of this sort of  ‘bodices and bloodlines’ kind of saga myself but the writing was good with just enough suspense to keep me involved. There’s plenty of period touches for those of you who like  your gothic gaslit and even a mysterious mad woman locked in the attic a la Jayne Eyre.  Three out of five stars.


House Malign

housemalignJames Venner was a bluff county squire; his wife kindly but fussy; his daughter withdrawn and secretive; and his only son, Tarquin, a musical prodigy of genius. Their lonely house in Devon seemed a sanctuary to young violinist, Vanessa Orchard, who went to live with them to coach Tarquin.

But the family had a strange history…. Terror came to Vanessa in inexplicable ways – and Death was waiting in attendance at HOUSE MALIGN.

Written by Julie Wellsley and published as a Mayflower-Dell paperback 1967.

Having already read and reviewed Julie Wellsley’s Chateau of Secrets I was pretty excited when I stumbled upon this gothic romance tucked away in the Fifteenth Century Bookshop in Lewes recently – and what a bargain for 20p!

Like Chateau of Secrets, this story centres around the grim and ghostly goings on when a young woman, in this case the violinist Vanessa, ends up living with a rather strange family in a rather isolated area. Vanessa needs to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, in order to grieve over the death of her father and re-evaluate her life, so she jumps at the chance to work as a live-in music tutor with the Venner family in Devon.

The suspense builds nicely as Vanessa finds herself increasingly cut off from her friends and embroiled within some rather strange goings on. There are hints at a terrible curse overshadowing the isolated old farmhouse and with the bad weather comes bad dreams and premonitions that someone or something is out to get her. Armed with nothing but her trusty violin and with no-one but the local vicar to confide in, Vanessa ends up fighting for her life and sanity as the story builds to its fiery climax.

helpmehousemalignThis is an atmospheric suspense novel with some nice gothic touches. We have violins, madness, strange midnight whisperings, foggy, deadly landscapes and a mangled kitten in the bed scene. The Venner family are very weird, especially the child prodigy with a penchant for Nazi memorabilia, Tarquin.

There is very little romance getting in the way of the plot – in fact there is hardly any romance at all, which might put some people off. Though a more than eligible love interest presents himself early on in the guise of the handsome country squire Roderick Egan, Vanessa quickly writes him off as a bit of a bumpkin and he just as quickly fades to the back of the story line. Also I found the ending a little rushed and  teetering precariously toward silliness but the writing is very effective and if evil boy geniuses are your thing then this is the book for you. Three out of five stars.


Knight’s Keep

knightskeepOrphaned Janet Bewleigh had become an heiress overnight – the unexpected reward for an act of kindness – and now the once locked doors of her beloved Knight’s Keep were open to her.

But there was an aura of evil at the stately manor house which weighed on her like an invisible shroud. She wondered about Lord Ashford, her enigmatic, strangely attractive host, and about the sad, dead girl whose ghost still hovered over the Keep.

And then Janet read the ancient family motto, and knew that the final act was yet to be played…….

Written by Rona Randall and first published in Great Britain 1967. Published by Sphere Books 1973.

Set in Victorian England and narrated in the first person this is the story of one young lady’s quest to seek sanctuary by returning to the home of her recently deceased parents,  only to find madness and murderous intentions awaiting  her.

Our heroine, Janet Bewleigh, enjoyed a poor but happy childhood, helping out in her parents vicarage in Covent Garden, giving out soup and bread to the poor. Then a sudden skating accident leaves her tragically orphaned and she is left to carry on the work of her parents alone. One of her charges, the down and out Uncle Silas, dies in yet another mysterious accident soon after, and Janet becomes an unexpected heiress to a large fortune. Not only that, but he really was her uncle and she soon finds herself visiting the large Elizabethan mansion where her mother had grown up – Knights Keep.

keepsake

As you’d guess from the cover art things don’t start off so well for our Janet, with sinister ladies in waiting, a marriage to a sex obsessed sadist and a poisoned pet puppy to deal with for starters – but after a few interesting adventures and plot twists it all works out for the best. I really enjoyed this book, it’s full of atmosphere and attention to detail with some genuinely creepy bits –  I particularly liked the relationship between Lord Ashford and his rather enigmatic stepmother, the weird and wonderful femme fatale Miranda.

The blurb on the inside cover informs us Rona Randall is established as one of the best writers of Gothic Romance. Furthermore, Knight’s Keep was nominated for a major award of the Romantic Novelists Association. At the time of print the author was living in Sussex and it’s great to read something so good by a local author – I’ll definitely be looking out for more of her stuff. Four out of five stars.

Fear Among the Shadows

fearamongtheshadows

“Because he saved your life you refuse to believe he could take someone else’s…”

Julie Wescott knew that Greg could not have killed his wife; he was with her the night his wife was murdered. But the dead woman’s brother was convinced that Greg was responsible….. and suddenly Julie realized that she didn’t really know the handsome, charming man she loved at all.

In love with Greg, but drawn to David, Julie knew that one man was telling the truth – and the other was trapping her in a maze of deception and greed where death was the only exit…..

Which one could she trust?

Written by Louise Hoffman, first Ace printing September 1974.

shadowsfearThere are no crumbling castles, no ghosts or evil entities lurking in the shadows and the whole story takes place in sunny 1970’s California. But don’t let that put you off as this is a rather well written murder mystery that keeps it’s secrets right up till the end.

Our heroine, Julie Wescott, gets swept out to sea and nearly drowns, only to be swept off her feet by the tall, bronzed and handsome Greg Drake. Things couldn’t get any more perfect until she discovers he’s married – and then events go from bad to worse when his wife ends up dead. What looks like a tragic shooting following a botched burglary becomes enshrouded in mystery as Greg’s brother in law, David, appears on the scene – convinced Greg is the actual culprit and determined to avenge his sister’s death by proving his guilt.

But Julie cannot believe her beloved Greg could do such a thing and, with an alibi tighter than skin on a drum, neither can we. Or can we? But how could he have done it when he was with Julie the night of the murder?And what about David? Is he all he appears to be anyway?

Needless to say it all works out in the end but, with some interesting plot twists, dark revelations and a complete red herring that had me fooled right up to the end, this is a suspenseful, page-turning murder mystery worthy of an episode of Columbo. Three out of five stars.